Brazil: São Paolo court confirms prohibition of asbestos


A Brazil court in Sao Paolo has confirmed the existing prohibition of asbestos in the state. Asbestos is widely used in the construction industry, mainly as a thermal insulation and fireproof coating, but because it is a carcinogenic material it presents very serious risks to the health of the workers, which violates the Brazilian Constitution. The use of the product, that is already prohibited in five Brazilian states, was discussed on 24 August in the Supreme Court precisely because of the request for analysis of the law that prohibits its use in the State of São Paulo.

Before the discussion on the São Paulo’s law, at the same session, a Direct Unconstitutionality Action of the law that authorizes the sale of Asbestos throughout the country was judged. Six votes were required for the law be considered unconstitutional, however only five ministers considered it unconstitutional, which resulted in the maintenance of the current status under the law. Then, it was voted to maintain or not to ban the use of the product in São Paulo. Eight Ministers voted to maintain the regional ban on the use of the mineral in that state.

For the president of the Supreme Federal Court, Minister Carmen Lúcia, the vote about São Paulo’s law overturned the regulation for the use of asbestos throughout the national territory and now there is a legal vacuum for those states where there is no specific legislation on the subject. In this sense, it is possible to create state laws that do permit the use, but according to the former public work prosecutor Fernanda Giannasi, these would be the subject of questions in the Supreme Federal Court.

The product has already been banned in the European Union and Latin America in countries like Argentina, Chile and Uruguay.